By Tim Glon
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — The Ohio Northern men's basketball team gave a valiant effort, but fell at NCAA Division I foe Purdue Fort Wayne 81-47 Sunday afternoon at the Gates Athletic Center.
Freshman C.J. Napier (Miamisburg/Bishop Fenwick) nearly had his first career double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds, while fellow freshman Landen Long (Mason) added 12 points and seven rebounds to lead the Polar Bears (2-2 overall).
Ohio Northern got off to a great start, leading 11-7 with 5:05 gone in the contest. Back-to-back 3s from Long, a 3 by sophomore Brandon Waugh (Columbus/Northland) and a basket from Napier contributed to ONU's early success.
The Mastadons (3-5) answered with a 12-0 run over the next 4:18 to go up 19-11 with 10:37 left in the half.
Northern was within 21-16 at the 7:31 mark of the first half when PFW went on a 12-2 run to grab a 33-18 advantage with 4:21 left in the period.
The lead was 43-26 just after the half when two free throws by Long and a layup by Napier got ONU within 43-30 with 18:18 to go.
But Purdue Fort Wayne's length and athleticism on defense would take its toll on Ohio Northern's offense, as the hosts would outscore the Polar Bears 38-17 the rest of the way.
"I am very proud of our effort," ONU head coach Rich Bensman said. "We played hard and did a good job for the most part. I think their length bothered us some and we missed some shots we normally make. This was really a 15-20 point game that got away from us at the end. Hopefully we can turn this into a successful failure if we can learn from it a use the experience to get better."
Ohio Northern to struggle to get clean looks at the basket, as the Polar Bears made just 17-of-56 field goals for 30.4 percent. Northern was just 5-of-25 from 3-point range for 20 percent.
Fort Wayne made 31-of-61 field-goal attempts for 50.8 percent and was 8-of-25 from 3-point range for 32 percent.
The rebounding battle was pretty even, as PFW claimed a 37-34 advantage.
Northern enjoyed a 10-8 advantage in offensive rebounds and a 9-6 edge in second-chance points, while the Mastadons won the points in the paint battle 40-14.
The Polar Bears will return to action Dec. 7, as they open the Ohio Athletic Conference portion of their schedule with a 2 p.m. game at Mount Union.